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Photo courtesy Julie Cohen

Documentary Filmmaker, BetterThanFiction Productions

Marcus Bierich Distinguished Visitor - Class of Fall 2023

Julie Cohen is a documentary film director and producer. Her films include a series of documentary portraits of extraordinary feminists, directed alongside collaborator Betsy West—RBG (Magnolia Pictures, 2018), which profiled US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was one of the 25 most successful box office documentaries of all time. It was nominated for an Academy Award and won an Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking. JULIA (Imagine Documentaries /Sony Pictures Classics, 2021) tells the story of American cookbook author and television icon Julia Child. It premiered at the Telluride Film Festival before a major theatrical release and was shortlisted for an Academy Award. My Name is Pauli Murray (Amazon Studios, 2021), about an unsung Civil Rights and women’s rights leader premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won a Peabody Award.


Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down (CNN Films/Briarcliff Entertainment 2022), follows the exceptional life of an American Congresswoman who came back from a near-fatal shooting to become a leading activist against gun violence. It premiered at SXSW Film Festival, was nominated for two Critics’ Choice Awards and won the AARP’s Movies for Grown Ups award for Best Documentary.


Cohen’s most recent documentary, Every Body (Focus Features 2023) highlights the intersex rights movement. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it won a Subject Matter grant for “compelling films highlighting urgent social issues.” Her earlier films include The Sturgeon Queens (7th Art Releasing/PBS, 2014), which screened at the Berlinale and was named a Best of the Fest at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, and New York Emmy Award winners Ndiphilela Ukucula: I Live to Sing (PBS, 2013) and A Joyous Sound (PBS, 2011).


Before Cohen started her own company, BetterThanFiction Productions, in 2007, she was a staff producer for NBC News and the creator and producer of Supreme Court Watch on Court TV. She holds a BA from Colgate University and master’s degrees from Columbia University and Yale Law School.

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